The New Guard
In our tireless search for what’s modern now, we’ve combed the globe for fresh talent, seeking out design stars in the making—our next generation of Bouroullecs, Jasper Morrisons, and Patricia Urquiolas. These 27 up-and-comers (who we’ve numbered separately from their collections in the pages that follow) are shaping the future of design, creating objects that make our world and our homes more functional, beautiful, and inspiring. We think you’ll see a lot more of them in the years to come.
Pia Wüstenberg, a young German-Finnish designer based in London, graduated just last year from the Royal College of Art (RCA). But a glance at her portfolio, peppered with quirky and carefully handcrafted pieces, reveals that the 25-year-old designer has already found her visual identity.
If 28-year-old Henry Wilson were not a designer, he would be a skipper. After one chaotic trip to the Milan furniture fair several years ago, Wilson began to question the necessity of producing new things in a “stuff”-saturated world. So he found a timber boat and sailed it from Spain to Thailand. After the trip, he says, he had gained some jarring perspective on the size of the world and his relative place in it.
Renée Rossouw funneled her various fixations into a single focus when she spent 2010 pursuing the Master of European Design Labs, an interdisciplinary degree program directed by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon. The program is based in Madrid, but students travel to various European cities. Rossouw, 26, had just completed a master’s in architecture, but she was on less sure footing regarding other types of design. “I was interested in design from a young age, but I never felt I truly understood it,” she says. “South Africa is a craft-oriented country, but we don’t actually have a design industry.”
Federico Churba graduated from the industrial design program at the University of Buenos Aires in 2001, right on the cusp of Argentina’s economic crisis and the collapse of its peso. His country’s reduced reliance on imports and shift to domestic industry meant a short testing period for young designers. “There was a strong pull to start producing immediately and showing the world what we could do,” says Churba. From the beginning, he was interested in manipulating material and forms to create simple, newly iconic shapes. An early influence was Vico Magistretti and his 1986 Vidun table, whose height-adjustable base is an outsized wooden screw.
A self-proclaimed “collector of old stuff,” designer Yota Kakuda finds inspiration in vintage objects found in junk shops and flea markets. He is constantly gathering vinyl records and inexpensive antiques because “the stuff that survives throughout history must be a strong object.” He holds a special appreciation for mingei, meaning “handcrafted art of ordinary people” in Japanese, as his mother owned many of these simple, utilitarian pieces—such as ceramic bowls, wood carvings, and textiles—when he was growing up.
Fredrik Färg originally wanted to be an interior architect, but the urge to create objects with his hands won out. Inspired by art and passionate about fashion, he is driven to experiment. “For me, designing is about learning how to make things by making mistakes and breaking rules,” he says
Jonas R. Stokke and Øystein Austad met in a portfolio review at the Oslo School of Architecture in 2004 and have worked together ever since. They exhibited a small collection of furniture prototypes during Milan’s Salone Satellite in 2005 and 2006, gaining international attention even before they graduated.
Line Depping finds inspiration in corralling disorder. “We seek to have control and order, but we live in a chaotic world,” the Copenhagen-based designer says. Last year she created a storage system called Tool Boxes, which she exhibited during Milan Design Week. Six ash-wood trays in gradient colors ranging from natural wood to canary yellow stack neatly on top of one another or can be pulled out to showcase the contents of a drawer, giving “space to chaos in an indirect way.”
John Arndt and Wonhee Jeong Arndt named their studio after the made-up word “gorm,” an invented antonym to the real word “gormless” (meaning stupid or dull). The Eugene-based duo creates products that are sustainable, pared down, and pragmatic: easy to carry, repair, recycle, compost, or collapse.
Trained as interior architects, Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Theerachai of THINKK Studio are fascinated by the interplay of contrasting materials in architecture, and frequently combine industrial materials in their product designs. “We seek to blur the boundaries between East and West, craft and industry, with a uniqueness of form,” says Archjananun, a 2011 graduate of the University of Art and Design Lausanne whose thesis project, Weight Vases (right), put THINKK Studio on the global design map. A study in minimalism executed in concrete and powder-coated steel, the piece is pared down to the essence of a vase: a vessel for water and a slim support system for the stems.
Felicia F. Dean (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Cocoon Chair, 2011: From an aesthetic standpoint, the Cocoon chair carries on the torch of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: something basic—in this case, folds of fabric—manipulated in a highly technical way.
Sarah Pease (Rhode Island School of Design), T12 Light, 2011: The T12 light is a shining example of simple, premade materials deployed in an elegant fashion. The black walnut and aluminum base supports an industrial, U-shaped fluorescent lightbulb, set off by a braided fabric cord.
Justin G. Miller (Savannah College of Art and Design, graduated), Multipurpose Stool, 2011: This versatile piece of industrial design was originally intended for a bathroom: It’s stain, impact, and heat resistant; easy to clean; naturally antibacterial; and ideal for a small space.
Daniel Hulsbergen (Design Academy Eindhoven, graduated), Centerpiece series, 2010: These sculptural vases meld two traditional Dutch crafts, the printed Delft Blue vase and handcrafted wicker braiding. This is complemented by a very modern ethos: sustainability through reuse.
“Lars Beller Fjetland’s Nuki table, held together by pegs and topped with a marble slab, grabbed my attention at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair.”